BUSD selects members to facilities naming committees

When Burbank High School’s main athletic field will be named and whether David Starr Jordan Middle School will be renamed are two questions still months away from being answered.

Burbank Unified officials, however, continued their slow, unprecedented move toward responding to community requests for such action by finalizing two facilities naming committees last week.

A nine-member panel will evaluate the merits of christening Burbank’s field after former coach and athletic director Dave Kemp, while a separate group will look into whether keeping or dropping David Starr Jordan as the namesake of a city middle school is appropriate.

The middle school was named after the first chancellor of Stanford and a notorious supporter of eugenics, which seeks to improve the human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.

In March, the Palo Alto school board renamed its middle school from David Starr Jordan to Frank S. Greene Jr., named after an African American venture capitalist.

“We’ve said it several times, but I just want to say again, this was hard,” board member Steve Frintner said during the most recent board meeting last week. “There were a plethora of great applications here and people who I hope will be involved.”

Each committee consists of two board members, the secondary director of education, the school’s principal, a current or former district employee, a current parent representative, a BUSD student and two community members at large.

The Burbank High committee’s nine members are board members Charlene Tabet and Armond Aghakhanian, community members Randy Arrington and Debbie Kukta, parent Mikel Miller, employee Richard Sarquiz, student Lauren Applebaum, Burbank principal Michael Bertram and district director of secondary education John Paramo. Resident Connie Lackey will serve as an alternate.

Jordan’s nine-person squad is made up of board members Frintner and Tabet, residents Elena Hubbell and Gerrard Panahon, parent Laura Jimenez, employee Dana Ragle, student Ixchel Sanchez Jimenez, Jordan principal Jennifer Meglemre, and Paramo. Lackey, parent Gayle Kolodny Cole and student Emerson Coblentz are listed as alternates.

“This is one of the hardest things that we have done this year,” board president Roberta Reynolds said of the selection process.

Members of the community who wanted to be a part of either naming facility committee needed to have filed an application with the district by Aug. 30.

Interest was much higher for Jordan Middle School — as some applicants were turned away — than it was for Burbank High.

Ten people applied for the lone parent spot and four inquired to be a community representative, which is reserved for two members, on the Jordan committee.

On the flip side, everyone who wanted to be involved in the Burbank naming process was chosen or listed as an alternate.

The selection of two committees continues a process that began in April with a request to name Burbank High’s field. Since then, the board has tweaked its naming policy and set up a process for handling future requests.

“This is all brand-new territory for us, and … we’re trying to figure this out because it’s a brand new-board policy,” Paramo said.

Paramo added that he’s been emailing committee members to set up times for the first meetings, and he’s hopeful one will be held next month.

The facilities committee forums will include a structure similar to a board meeting with an agenda, a 72-hour notice of an upcoming meeting and room for public comment.

While the Burbank High committee will be deciding on a new name, the Jordan Middle School procedure will be an eventual vote for a name change. If a change is approved, then the committee will meet again to hear proposals for a new name.

“The process will take however long it takes,” Paramo said. “The one for Burbank High will probably not take as long as the one for Jordan. It could be several months before we figure this out.”

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